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Slumlord Millionaire?: Meet Indian American Ved Parkash, the ‘Worst Landlord’ in New York City

Slumlord Millionaire?: Meet Indian American Ved Parkash, the ‘Worst Landlord’ in New York City

  • With the help of Chhaya CDC and other organizations, six tenants filed a lawsuit against him alleging that one of his properties has broken elevators, mice and roaches that he ignored for years.

Many residents of Jamaica, a neighborhood in the New York City borough of Queens have sued their landlord Ved Parkash. In a lawsuit filed last week, they claim that one of the buildings owned by the Indian American, where they live, has broken elevators, mice, and roaches for years, the Queens Patch reported, citing court documents.

According to the lawsuit, six tenants at 89-20 161st Street filed a lawsuit against Parkash in April, alleging the landlord has ignored their requests to remove the mold, roaches, and mice in the apartments, as well as provide heat during winter, for at least 12 years, the Patch report said. 

The complaint was filed with the help of Chhaya CDC, a nonprofit that helps low-income communities with housing, Catholic Migration Services, Queens Legal Services’ Tenant Rights Coalition, and Our Housing Stability Team. 

In a press statement, Chhaya CDC lauded “the strength and resilient” of the tenants, which “inspires” the group “to continue our fight for safe and dignified housing for all. Their courage in standing up to their landlord and demanding better living conditions is a testament to the power of community action and the importance of tenant rights.”

Parkash also owned the two buildings in the Bronx which were heavily damaged by massive fires recently. News 12 reported that the Wakefield building has 32 violations with the Housing Preservation & Development (HPD) and nine with the Department of Buildings (DOB). The other location — the Noble Avenue building — had 31 violations by the DOB and 14 by the HPD.

In 2015, he was deemed one of New York City’s worst landlords, “by racking up 2,200 open housing violations,” as reported by Real Deal, a real estate news outlet. The following year, “he was sued by 38 tenants for allowing violations to run rampant at 750 Grand Concourse,” the news outlet said. The next year, “several tenants in the rodent-infested building came down with rat-borne diseases, and one died,” the report added.

Real Deal also cited the complaints filed against Parkash in the following years. In 2017, there was Section 8 discrimination; in 2019, he topped a worst-evictors list. He was also fined $100,000 “for cramming extra units into his buildings.” In October 2021, coincidentally the landlord’s 77th birthday — a superintendent who had worked for him filed a federal lawsuit in Manhattan accusing him of wage theft.

An investigation conducted by Bronx Ink, an online news site run by students at Columbia Journalism School, found his buildings “to be riddled with routine complaints of broken elevators, invasive mold, water damage and more serious reports of collapsing ceilings, illegally sub-divided apartments and lead exposure.” Tenants in many buildings owned by him told Bronx Ink that their landlord was “slow to respond to complaints,” and that he “aggressively litigated against those whose rent was overdue.” 

Although his family has been living in the  Old Westbury neighborhood on Long Island, New York, Parkash still works out of what once was the dining room in the small house in Queens. 

Who is Ved Parkash?

Parkash was born into a poor family in Punjab, according to a profile in Bronx Ink. The self-made businessman told the publication that he grew up desperate to escape the cycle of poverty. “You walk to the school barefoot, you bike ten miles to go to the college.” 

In 1969, two years before he moved to the U.S., he married his wife Shashi. Soon after, she gave birth to their first son, who died six days later, “leaving behind an ill mother and a grieving father,” the Bronx Ink profile said. So Parkash, then 27, and moved to the United States to work as a high school physics teacher. He had a master’s degree in physics.

However, the school offered him only part-time work at four hours a week, “at a rate of $8 an hour,” Bronx Ink said.  As his rent was $35 a week, was due every three weeks, he quit the job. Instead, “he found a job in Hempstead, working the graveyard shift sweeping the floor of a factory at $2.25 an hour,” Bronx Ink said. 

A few years later, he went to India to be with his ailing wife and take care of her. With help from a friend, he bought a ticket for himself and his wife to return to the U.S. That money came in handy not just for the flight tickets, but also to rent a room in Queens. He got a job as a security guard while his wife began working in a factory stitching clothes in Manhattan. Then he found a second job as a clerk, he got his wife a job in the same office.

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With the savings he had from his two jobs, he found “a small, cozy house” in Jamaica, Queens, Bronx Ink said. When he asked the broker for four months to pay for the rest of the $12,000, the broker agreed, “giving Parkash an opportunity that most do not come by.” Four months later, he bought his first-ever piece of property. As soon as they moved to their new home, they had a daughter on the way. “This house is very, very lucky,” he told Bronx Ink. 

For the next fine years, he worked and saved. He then bought a grocery store in the North Bronx. The store helped him “put aside even more money,” he told Bronx Ink. “My whole goal was saving, saving, saving.”

A year and a half later, in 1980, he put a down payment on his first building, “a three-minute walk away from his house,” Bronx Ink said. In the following two years, he bought his second and third buildings. “When you own a building, you make money when you’re sleeping,” unlike a store, he told the publication explaining his shift to real estate. There was also a risk to life at a grocery store. He told Bronx Ink that at his store he was “robbed, was held at gunpoint, had his nose broken.” He continued: “They rob you, they kick you, they kill you.”

By making the move to real estate, Parkash was not just choosing a lucrative career, but also realizing a childhood dream. He told Bronx Ink that “ he had always wanted to be in real estate, but his family was just too poor in India.” He then told his grocery store and bought his fourth building. 

By 2016, when the profile was filed, Bronx Ink noted that Parkash owned 70 buildings around the city. Most of those properties were in the Bronx. He told Bronx Ink that most of his buildings are in the Bronx rather than Queens, because “the Queens housing court system was very tough on landlords in the 80s.”

Although his family has been living in the  Old Westbury neighborhood on Long Island, New York, Bronx Ink notes that Parkash still works out of what once was the dining room in the small house in Queens. And although complaints against him were piling against the “worst landlord,” Bronx Ink said Prakash seemed “unperturbed by the dissension.” 

Now with several lawsuits and more charges against him, what Parkash has in store for him is anybody’s guess. Will he continue his deeds, or will he change and take heed of his tenants, only time will tell.

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